Thursday, April 30, 2009

That's no 'fro, it's a huckleberry bush.

April 30, 2009

Panel 1: So I've started counting all the exclamation points that the Jackelrod Sphere has employed since January 1. In doing so, I've noticed something that I hadn't paid attention to before. Namely, the JS use three forms of punctuation to show the end of a sentence: an exclamation point, a question mark, ellipses. So far, I haven't seen a single free-standing period. Today's panel one is no exception. He's clearly addressing two different characters, Sassy and Tom Wopat (who, I might add, appears to be preparing himself for some additional tongue work by Sassy). Rather than have two free standing sentences, the JS uses the ellipses to break them up. I'm not sure why, as the intent would be just as clear with periods.

Panel 2: Looks like a hyenapig to me, Stringy. Better throw it back before it gives you some deadly hyena flu-swine flu hybrid.

Panel 3: The silent Elf lurks in the forest, waiting for the opportunity to launch himself like a deranged gnat, at the ankles of the dog-napping villains.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


April 29, 2009

Panel 1:That hair! I keep trying to think of something to say about this panel, but I keep getting sidetracked by Stringy's hair. If you focus on it long enough, it starts to look like an envelope tucked behind his ear. Or a TV screen full of static. Or possibly a razor blade slicing his ear off. You know what it doesn't look like? Hair.

Panel 2:I do believe Stringy and Tom Wopat may have redeemed themselves a little bit here. I was thinking they'd kick the dog and nab the Elf. Now, faced with the prospect of the Elf's escape, they actually have a decent plan for getting him back. He's obviously a doofus, they recognize that, and they're going to use that to their advantage. Bravo!

Panel 3: Actually, Elf, they're damn near on top of her. But let's not quibble about semantics. You should run over their and try to rescue her. I mean, it's obvious that these vicious bank robbers intend to do her great harm. Or maybe they just want a little more action...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So fucking lame.

April 28, 2009

Today's strip is so lame I can't bring myself to do a panel-by-panel snark. Between the piss poor perspective in Panel 1 (is that a pig or a dog?), the overly-precious puppy face in Panel 2, and the fucking Reader's Digest-esque narration in Panel 3, it's like a perfect storm of lameness. If the writers of every 1950s family-friendly sitcom were to awaken from the dead and team up with a crew of Hallmark Corp. card writers to put together a comic strip for the Lame Country News, this is the sort of cloying drivel they'd give us. Ugh.

And does anyone want to bet that tomorrow Tom or Stringie kick po', widdle, sweet Sassy?

Monday, April 27, 2009

'Taint the NBA.

April 25, 2009

Panel 1: Sassy's head is shrinking.

Panel 2: Tom Wopat is a doctor.

Panel 3: The Elf is going to run into the door.

Panel 1: Wow. Who would have guessed that the Elf is a trained sprinter. That's the sort of form that'll get him into the 2016 Olympics! Or, more likely, the Jackelrod Sphere isn't very good at showing motion.

Panel 2: "Sassy is thrown from his harms." Very nice passive tense there JS. I'm going to call bullshit on this one, though. Look at that picture. Yeah, the dog was the Elf. He's tossing that pooch like a miniature (and white) Lebron James. Why? That's a better question and, judging from the look on her face, one that Sassy is asking herself right now.

Panel 3:

Friday, April 24, 2009

No ass-kicking yet.

April 24, 2009

Panel 1:Kiss, kiss, smooch, smooch. Andy, the pony-sized dog, seems to have something going on with Mark's stallion. And Mark's hemmrhoids must be bad if he has to ride with his ass hanging off to one side of the saddle. All these things do a fine job drawing my attention away from Cherry's blather.

Panel 2:Mark is sick today and C. Thomas Howell is filling in.

Panel 3:Nicely done Stringy. It's a well known fact that teenage boys (even ones as dim and complacent as the Elf) respond really well to stern reprimands. I'm sure you've just guaranteed that the Elf is going to stay glued to that chair.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


April 23, 2009

Panel 1: What the hell is Tom Wopat doing in this panel? Is he so drunk he needs to hold himself up by grasping at the window frame and sill? Or is he merely caught up in the throes of ecstasy brought about by the buggerific rim job Sassy appears to be providing? And if that's the case, why will they need the Elf? They should just get rid of him and keep good ol' Sassy.

Panel 2: Judging from Tom's frown, that weren't no rim job. I guess he was just drunk. Now he's got the spins and he's concentrating mightily on not throwing up.

Panel 3: I continue to be really, really annoyed by the Jackelrod Sphere's over-reliance on and utter abuse of the exclamation point. Perhaps the dialog in this panel merits exclamations, but let's return to Panel 1 for a second. In that panel, Stringy, who is relaxing at the table with his smokes and a stolen camera and draping his left arm over the back of the chair, says, "Yeah, we may need him!" The exclamation point just doesn't fit the picture. His body says chilled-out, his dialog says revved-up. Which is it?

Oh, and I think we should all applaud the fact that Mark is about to leave the house with Andy. We may finally get to see some real ass-kicking.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lost Forest of the Dead!

Earth Day 2009

Panel 1: You know what you're going to do Stringy? You're going to run like hell, 'cuz Zombie Elf is coming after you and he wants more brains.

Panel 2: No, that would be stupid. Instead, you should tie him up to the fantastic flock of the rare Inverse Mallard* and let them fly away with him.

Panel 3: Every time I read this panel (and I've read it at least six times), I keep seeing a "him" between "pack" and "up." I don't know if it's because the dialog works better that way or because the him in the second line is close. Nonetheless, I like the idea of stuffing the Elf into a suitcase and driving away with him in the trunk.

*Or, possibly, some sort of Mallard-Cayuga hybrid or some other variety of manky mallard.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Part the 84th, in which our intrepid blogger falls down on the job

April 18, 2009

Panel 1: The ambiguously gay hyena pup (I mean really, “Sassy”?) clearly has not caught the note of panic in the Elf’s voice here.

Panel 2: Ugh, I feel icky when the Elf breaches the fourth wall and talks directly to me. In particular, his two-dimensional circle face makes me feel nauseous.

Panel 3: And this, my friends, is what happens when pure dorkiness runs into pure lameness…not much: a minor flash of light, but no heat and no noise.

April 20, 2009

Panel 1: Today’s narration box isn’t quite right. The Elf has not, in fact, run out the door. He has run toward the door and crashed into Stringy while still inside the house. The camera, however, does appear to be making good its escape. Perhaps it will now return to Lost Forest and warn Mark about the Elf’s capture.

Panel 2: Oops, Stringy, you left out three important questions: who, when, and where. Let me help out:

“Who gave you that fabulous haircut?”
“When are you going to shut that damn yappy-ass dog up?”
“Where did you find this beautiful velvet shirt?”

Panel 3: “And then I just stumbled through the open door. And then I just happened to pick up this camera. And I just want my Mommeeeeeeeeeee!”

April 21, 2009

Panel 1: That’s cool. Talk about the kid in the 3rd person long enough and he might fall into a dissociative fugue and forget everything he saw here. Of course, the line between the Elf’s normal state and a dissociative fugue is a mighty fine one, so it’s entirely possible that all the 3rd personing would be for naught and our eponymous, androgynous hero could decipher the information hidden in the Elf’s litany of tics, exclamations and twitches.

Panel 2: Sassy is finally earning his name here, that little smart ass.

Panel 3: Well, there’s only one solution: tie him to a giant rock and sink him in the lake. Wait, what’s that? This is Mark Trail. Shit. I guess that means you’re going to have to take him on a hike up into the woods to hide out in a cave so that when Sassy escapes and confirms that the camera told Mark, Mark will be able to track you up to the cave and apply a bit of frontier justice to your asses.

Friday, April 17, 2009

April 16, 2009

Panel 1: And the Elf reached that conclusion based on what evidence? It’s not clear. Perhaps his x-ray vision told him so.

Panel 2: Depends, young elf. Burglary has three elements: breaking, entry, and the intent to commit a felony. You’re certainly going to meet the first two elements. Question is, does the recovery of a stolen item constitute a felony? I don’t know.

Panel 3: Wow, when the Jones come to visit, they certainly do so with a vengeance. Stringy and Mr. Wopat need their smokes, and they need them now!

April 17, 2009

Panel 1:Actually, if we’re going to get all technical and stuff, it’s not always wrong to enter someone’s house. For example, if the door is wide open and you walk in, you haven’t “broken in” and the law would not look askance at your presence there. Of course, you opened the latch so your sneaking about is, in fact, wrong. You damn dirty delinquent.

Panel 2: Um, we saw this panel already. It sucked then, and it sucked now.

Panel 3: Guns. What’s not good about that? Grab a couple, kill those motherfuckers, wipe down the guns, take the camera and the money, and go take some pictures of ducks. It'd be like Dick Tracy, only less art-deco.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I regret that you have but one life to give...

April 15, 2009
I hereby dedicate this strip to all those brave and resourceful Tea Baggers protecting us from the vicious, fascisocialistic tyranny of Herr Oberfuhrer Obama's broad middle-class tax cuts and concomitant 10% increase in top marginal tax rates. These gallant warriors are all that stand between us and the camps.

Panel 1:That’s quite the cliff our young elf is standing on, eh?

Panel 2:And that’s quite the fucking set of eagle eyes our young elf has, what with his ability to assess the contents of the boat (including the closed tackle box) from up on his cliff.

Panel 3: But wait, what’s this? Where did these rocks come from? And what happened to our young elf’s resolution to go tell Mark about his sighting of our two favorite members of Homo criminalis, Stringy and Tom Wopat?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beer drinking took precedence...

To my faithful readers, my apologies for missing these last four days. I slipped out of state (or in my case, District) for a bit of Easter vacationing in the fine city of Austin, Texas. One of the highlights of my trip (apart from spending three days in Austin) was meeting Josh Fruhlinger, the Comics Curmudgeon, in the check-in line at the airport. He was very nice, very gracious and a testament to the good looks, wisdom, and ineffable wit one typically associates with comic bloggers....

April 10, 2009

Panel 1: “And I’m going to start this vacation out right, by doing some crunches while drinking red cans of beverage!”

Panel 2: “We’ll outwit them, dadburnit! We’ll stay right here at the scene of the crime. They’ll be out speeding around and hunting for us like Roscoe P. Coltrane on a meth-binge, and we’ll be here savoring our red cans of beverage.”

Panel 3: “Indeed, unlike the hypothetical individuals who could have viewed us in the background of the kid’s pictures and identified us as bank robbers, we can be absolutely certain the hypothetical individuals who see us fishing will be unable to identify us.”

Could Ace Buttockio give us an assist here, please, and let us know what type of duck we’re viewing in this panel?

April 11, 2009

Panel 1:Clearly, Stringy has no idea what it actually means to be rich. People do not get or stay rich by spending money. They get and stay rich by screwing the poor. It would behoove Stringy to get this idea straight in his head before he goes and does something stupid, like blow his wad on eight balls and whores. Far better to stash it in a bank and invest the interest in something respectable like a pay-day lending company.

Panel 2: You know what, I’m going to start referring to T-Neck as Tom Wopat...unless someone can identify a washed-up TV star he more closely resembles.

Panel 3: Is it me, or is the Elf a tad over-outfitted for a quick photographic expedition?

April 13, 2009

Panel 1: You know Elf, leaving the baby hyena at home might make it a little easier to get close to animals that you’re trying to photograph.

Panel 2:You know Elf, if you were in Texas, I’d be kind of afraid for those ducks.

Panel 3:You know Elf, you’re mighty fucking observant.

April 14, 2009

Panel 1: This is one weird-ass picture of the Elf the JS has graced us with today. His head is far enough out of the foliage that we ought to be able to see rest of his jawline and possibly his ear. As it is, it looks like he’s got a giant flesh-colored goiter growing out of the left side of his neck and head. Yech.

Panel 2: “Especially since we’re out of red cans of beverage.”

Panel 3: And thus began the Elf’s transformation into...Bat Boy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Future Pluperfect?

April 9, 2009

Panel 1: Can anyone identify the tense the sheriff is using to talk about the Elf? Larry (aka Stringy) and Moe (aka T-neck) have not yet been captured. So while most of us English speakers would use “may have helped” to refer to causation of past events, the sheriff is using it to refer to future events. Weird.

Panel 2: I keep thinking that the sheriff looks familiar. It nagged and nagged at me yesterday. Today, when I opened the paper, though, I had an epiphany. Fred Gwynne. He looks a lot like Fred Gwynne. It’s like the Jackelrod Sphere decided to have a Car 54, Where Are You? reunion so we could see what an aging Fred Gwynne looks like dressed up in his old uniform.

Panel 3: Again with the tenses! The two men are not in the restaurant. You saw those two men in the restaurant. Big difference. And the two words “we saw” would not make your speech bubble unmanageable. Sheesh.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Jackelrod Sphere displays its sly sense of humor.

April 8, 2009

Panel 1: Ooooh, hardened criminals stole the Elf’s camera. But Most Wanted? Really? I kind of doubt that. I’m thinking these guys are more Bill and Sam than Bonnie and Clyde (or is that Barry and Clyde?).

Panel 2: Or maybe they’re just Larry and Moe.

Panel 3: I bet they were waiting for their rendezvous with Shemp. Or possibly Curly.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm lazy and uninspired.

April 7, 2009

I'm going to eschew the panel-specific commentary today in the interest of saving your time and mine. A quote from each panel:

"You shouldn't be going too far..."
"Sassy's going with me..."
"Be sure to tell Cherry where you'll be and when you'll be back."

Let me predict what happens next. First, the Elf goes too far. Then, the Elf is kidnapped, but not his favorite Barbie doll, Sassy. When Sassy wanders back to Lost Forest without the Elf, Mark goes to look for him. Mark meets the kidnappers (Stringy and T-neck), treats them to a couple of rounds with the Right Fist O' Justice, rescues the Elf and the sheriff shows up. We're done. Can we now skip ahead to May and see what happens in the next serial?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Squirrel gravy.

April 4, 2009

Panel 1: Maybe. Or maybe he’s a camera collector who recognizes a precious relic of a simpler time when toothpaste came in metal tubes, when the Beetles still had short hair, when Mom stayed at home where she belonged, and where digital cameras could only use memory cards once.

Panel 2: Those are some smart fucking trees right there. And one puzzled-ass squirrel, trying to figure out when trees learned to talk. Clearly, he’s unfamiliar with Ents.

April 6, 2009

Panel 1: English, goddamit, English! Tortured grammar aside, can we conclude from this sentence that if the man wanted the camera for something besides the pictures the Elf took in the restaurant (e.g., to sell the camera), the Elf would not wonder why. Does the Elf doubt his own picture-taking abilities so much that he wonders why anyone would want pictures he took? If so, this may be the first hint of self-awareness we’ve had from any character in this strip.

Panel 2: You know, I don’t think I’ve spent enough time considering the premise of this plot line. I had to go back and re-read the strips and figure out, yet again, why Stringy and Turtleneck want the Elf’s portrait of them so badly. March 17th seems to hold the clue:

There you have it. S and T are visiting the Elf’s town. Their visit is, in the parlance of property lawyers, open and notorious. Anybody could, in theory, see and recognize them. Clearly, they weren’t too worried about being recognized when they planned their fabulous weekend at their lake house. Yet, someone takes a picture of them and they suddenly get worried. Why? Their picture isn’t going to get them recognized any more than their actual presence will. It’s not like some random kid is going to make a billboard out of a picture he took of his parents. There’s a huge logical disconnect there. To avoid the repercussions of that disconnect, the JS has to make them go and do something stupid, like stealing a camera from a 9-year old, that will bring the picture to the attention of someone who matters, like the sheriff. I know this is Mark Trail and we’re in comic strip land, but how hard would it be for the JS to dream up a remotely plausible scenario dealing with cameras, felons, and “used” memory cards?

Panel 3: Mark is filing his nails. There’s a plate of chicken beaks on the table. Cherry is serving coffee. It must be breakfast!

Friday, April 3, 2009


April 3, 2009

Panel 1: Mark’s magical black box has apparently achieved something the Elf heretofore thought impossible: extracting a picture from a “used” memory card. Wow. That’s some crazy shit.

Panel 2: Um, yes Elf, we know that. Do you know how we know that? You told us. On March 31st. And know what else? We’ve been talking about it ever since. So, for just a sec, just STFU please. You’re not adding anything of value here.

Panel 3: I’ve got a theory Mark. Want to hear it? Here it is: Stringy and Turtleneck are actually the comic incarnations of the Jackelrod Sphere and his colorist. Having realized just how badly they have fucked up the coloring and coherence of this particular story line, they have decided to interject themselves into the strip and steal the evidence of their ineptitude. In particular, the photographs that the Elf was taking. Unfortunately for them, their criminal aptitude is about on par with the comic strip production aptitudes, and so I imagine we’re going to suffer a whole lot more incoherence before this thing peters out. As evidence of this assertion, I point you to the following three panels. I’ll let you identify the problems…

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Haunting in the Lost Forest

April 2, 2009

Panel 1: Ugh, there’s a set of skeletal digits reaching up to stroke Cherry’s velvety, soft chin. Fortunately, the Elf’s dialogue balloon is blocking out the frightening visage of this devilish ghoul.

Panel 2: Here we go again with the “used” memory cards theme. Now, I know people keep a couple of spare memory cards on hand when they travel. I mean, if your 2GB SD card only holds 285 hi-res pictures, it makes sense. But how many people routinely fill and file away memory cards when they’re at home? None. Except the Elf. Who has a stack of these stashed away under his bed that look like this:

One day, he’s going to figure out how to get those darn pictures off his “used” memory cards.

Panel 3: I’m not sure whether to comment on the fact that the Jackelrod Sphere seems to be realizing that its randomly placed dialogue balloons can provide seconds of unintentional hilarity to readers of this strip, or to comment on Mark’s risible suggestion that looking at pictures of two dudes eating lunch will somehow explain why those same two dudes stole the Elf’s camera. Oh wait…

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No April Fools...unfortunately.

April 1, 2009

Panel 1: Well, dear readers, our last, best hope has been dashed on the cruel shoals of humorless plotting. The Jackelrod Sphere could have ended this travesty of a storyline with a single panel saying “April Fools!” carved in an appropriately rustic font on bit of weathered wood. But no, we just got more of the same. The Elf is still confused, Mark is still embracing the exclamation point, and Stringy and Turtleneck are still fleeing from the scene of their most recent crime in their school bus and, no doubt, trying to figure out how to get the film out of the Elf’s former camera.

Panel 2: That’s quite the mouthful Mark. You could have just said, “I bet he didn’t really want the camera.” It might have made you sound almost human.

Panel 3: Duh. He wants them for their brilliant composition. Stringy recognizes the next Annie Liebowitz when he sees her…

UPDATE: Many thanks to the inimitable xy. Today's strip was added at 1:03 PM.

Dead or Alive?

KEN! Alive. My fault!
My fault…
With happy
We’re in it!
Can’t. I don’t think so… Give me the stupid camera!
Here’s your money kid!
Mark! Mark!

This has been another edition of Absurdist Bolds: The Collected Poems of the Jackelrod Sphere.